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What We Read Today 28 March 2016

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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Topics today include:

  • U.S. Capital Shooting

  • How NAFTA Drives Trump Support

  • Hawkish Fed Drives Dollar Up, Oil Down

  • How the CIA Built ISIS

  • Restoring the American Chestnut Tree

  • Best Economics Universities in Europe

  • Synthetic Cell Defines Minimum Genes Required for Life

  • LGBT Activists Win with Economics, Not Morality

  • Our Wandering Moon

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • U.S. Capitol lockdown lifted after gunman shot by police (The Washington Post)  A man with a gun was shot by police Monday afternoon at the Capitol Visitor Center at the U.S. Capitol Complex, according to two D.C. police officials. He was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  The report of gunfire in a city on heightened alert because of terror attacks in Europe sent dozens of emergency vehicles to the Capitol building and forced staff and visitors into lockdown. Road barricades went up and police officers with automatic rifles were stationed on street corners.

  • The 89% Pay Cut That Brought Trump-Mania to America's Heartland (Bloomberg)  How NAFTA took jobs away from millions of Americans and created replacements in Mexico is discussed in this review.  These are people that Donald Trump is appealing to and accounts for some of his success.  Econintersect:  Of course, Bernie Sanders is trying the same message and looking for support from the same people.

  • Hawkish Fed Chatter Sends Dollar Higher, Oil Lower (Dividend Investing Weekly)  Aside from the hawkish Fed chatter and attacks on Brussels sending the dollar higher, oil prices buckled after data showed crude stockpiles had risen by 9.35 million barrels, or three times the amount expected in the latest week. Russia piled on extra pressure as it reported its crude exports were expected to rise sharply in the coming months. Both headlines caused oil to slump to $38.70/bbl. after trading above $41.00/bbl. Oil is still the center of attention for many markets. As oil prices fall, markets are turning risk-off.   For the latest see Gary's Live Market Reports, thrice daily.

  • CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured (The Guardian)  The CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to its foreign partners for torture, the Guardian can reveal.  A former US official who had seen some of the photographs described them as “very gruesome”.   Such photographs are a violation of the Geneva Conventions (as was the torture by partners, as well).

  • Restoring the American Chestnut (R&D)  "Beneath the Spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands" (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)  A massive blight virtually wiped out the iconic eastern American tree 100 years ago.  But it may return:  genetic engineering is now poised to offer a solution: blight-resistant American chestnut trees.  For more, see Restoring the American chestnut (American Society for Horticultural Science).

  • This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest (The Guardian)  It’s impossible to miss the “Hillary for Prison” signs at Trump rallies. At one of the Democratic debates, the moderator asked Hillary Clinton whether she would drop out of the race if she were indicted over her private email server. “Oh for goodness – that is not going to happen,” she said. “I’m not even going to answer that question.”  Based on what I know about the emails, the idea of her being indicted or going to prison is nonsensical. Nonetheless, the belief that Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy is pervasive. A recent New York Times-CBS poll found that 40% of Democrats say she cannot be trusted.  Columnist Jill Abrahamson says that by trying to protect her privacy Clinton gives the appearance of deception when none exists.


  • The 16 best European universities for studying economics (Business Insider)   Every year QS produces a comprehensive ranking of the world's best universities, broken down by both region and subject.  QS' latest ranking was released on Tuesday and includes data about which universities provide the best education in the discipline of economics and econometrics.  The university ranking is based on the institution's reputation with academics and employers, and the number of research citations the school gets per paper published in a specific discipline — in this case, economics and econometrics. It then gives each course a score out of 100.  Many of the best are in the U.S.  Here BI reports the top rated universities in Europe.  Econintersect:  This is a rearview mirror evaluation.  Looking through the windshield we think one of the top Universities in future such rankings will be Kingston University, London, home to such notables as Steve Keen and Philip Pilkington, who contribute to GEI.


  • Lahore bombing victims buried as grief turns to anger over safety of Christians (The Guardian)  Christian leaders are protesting the lack of security for those of their faith in public places after an amusement park bombing killed at least 71 and injured more than 200, with women and children bearing the brunt of the carnage.  Christians number about 4 million in Pakistan, more than 2% of thecountry's 192 million people. 


  • US soldier shoots and kills Afghan boy near American air base (The Guardian)   A US soldier shot and killed an Afghan boy on Monday near an American airfield close to the capital Kabul, a senior Afghan police officer said.  The boy, whose age is unknown, had been carrying what looked like an automatic rifle near the Bagram airfield, 50km (31 miles) from Kabul in neighboring Parwan province, said the provincial police chief, Gen Zaman Mamozai.  An American soldier had warned the boy from a watchtower to stop, he said.  Local people gathered near the base to protest against the killing, but dispersed once they were told about the circumstances, Mamozai said. He said (as has the US military) the incident is being investigated.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • Landmark as lab creates synthetic cell with minimum genes needed for life (The Guardian)  Researchers led by the renowned Craig Venter, Ph.D. created a synthetic organism named JCVI Syn3. It is a microbe capable of surviving and replicating with only 473 genes, establishing that this genetic number is the minimum needed for life whereas humans have a rough estimate of 20,000 genes.

  • The bucks stop with Brat, the economics professor, on federal spending (Richmond Times-Dispatch)  When he was just a Randolph-Macon College professor running for Congress, Dave Brat liked to say he would be the only economist in the U.S. House of Representatives if elected.  Now, 15 months into his freshman term in Washington, Brat — who made history in 2014 by upsetting then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th — again is drawing attention, sounding the alarm as a conservative naysayer on the federal budget.  Econintersect:  We have one question for the good professor-congressman:  Where do you think money comes from?

  • How LGBT activists win in states like Georgia: Emphasize economics, not just equality (The Washington Post)  From Georgia to North Carolina and beyond, LGBT advocates are playing plenty of defense in 2016. But they just won a key battle in a deep-red state -- and they did it thanks to an unlikely ally. Again.  Small businesses and large corporations, industry associations, universities and sports leagues are leading the way in opposing a slew of religious freedom and transgender bills popping up in conservative-leaning states. And their help appears to be making the cause resonate in ways that simply focusing on LGBT rights hasn't.  Econintersect:  Again, it is not important to define right and wrong, just determine what makes money.

  • The Moon Joins 'True Polar Wander' Club (R&D)   The moon has joined an exclusive club of theoretical celestial wanderers.  More than 3 billion years ago the Earth’s moon shifted from its original axis by around 125 miles over the course of a billion years.  The phenomenon, known as “true polar wander,” is thought to have occurred on four other celestial bodies within the solar system: Earth, Mars, the Saturn moon Enceladus, and the Jupiter moon Europa. While polar wander is spurred by varying types of geological activity, on the moon, the shift started internally.  For more see Lunar true polar wander inferred from polar hydrogen (Nature)

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